The Elder Scrolls series has made an indelible mark on gaming history, right from the first title in the franchise.
Whether it's due to the free-form combat, huge worlds or the amazing technology behind it, the series constantly appears on "best game of all time" lists.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion continued the tradition of generation-defining visuals, huge worlds and innovative combat. But it also succeeded in making the game world much more vibrant thanks to the Radiant AI system, with non-player characters all going about their routine.
So, topping Oblivion was no easy task for Bethesda Softworks when it announced Skyrim.
In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, players assume the role of the fabled Dovahkin or Dragonborn, the latest in a long-line of people with Dragon's blood coursing through their veins. But as with all Elder Scrolls games, you're just a prisoner at the start.
While your head lays on the chopping block, a dragon swoops in and devastates the town, killing your executioners in the process. And in the Elder Scrolls tradition, you'll need to fight your way out of a dark, dank locale first.
But once you've emerged from the caverns and sewers , the whole world is yours to see. And what a world it is.
Skyrim looks absolutely beautiful, with a massive draw distance, sharp character models and pretty scenery. Special effects, like the blood on your sword after combat, the multi-coloured bursts of light as you cast spells and the aurora borealis at night, all make this one fantastic-looking title.
The sound is an excellent accompaniment to the visuals as well, with epic musical scores really moving the player.
Bethesda has seen it fit to lavish the world with plenty of details, whether it's salmon swimming up-stream or butterflies fluttering about. And yes, you can catch the salmon and butterflies.
And there's plenty of other things to collect, such as plants, items from fallen enemies, secret treasures in dungeons and much more.
Many of these items have an effect on the player, such as animal meat that boosts your character's health or plants that restore your stamina.
You don't need to eat the meat raw though, as you can now cook meals over fires. It's a very cool touch, with players needing other ingredients, such as salt, to cook a meal.
The combat system in Skyrim will be familiar to anyone coming from Oblivion, but there are plenty of tweaks and changes in place. For one, players can now dual-wield magic and weapons in almost any way (providing that the weapon is one-handed).
So if I'd like to use a healing spell in one hand and a mace in the other, it's possible. Or if I'd like to use a spell in each hand, that can be done too. But in a neat twist, equipping the same spell with each hand will result in one powerful spell.
For players new to all of this, Skyrim has a real-time combat system, akin to first- or third-person action games. Weapon strikes can be accomplished by pulling the right-trigger, blocking is done by pressing the left trigger. Players also have bows and the aforementioned magic spells available, so there's a combat style for everyone.
There's also been a change to the enemy levelling system too, one of the more criticised aspects of Oblivion. In the previous game, enemies would level up with you, giving players a stiff challenge no matter what level they were themselves. While it was a great idea in theory, it often meant that even the lowliest creature would be an obstacle.
But in Skyrim, the enemies are at fixed levels for the most part, so players can truly feel all-conquering while vanquishing wolves, giant spiders and bandits (trolls, sabre cats and a few other creatures are still terrifying though).
One type of creature that isn't a walk in the park are dragons, a new addition to The Elder Scrolls series. These majestic beasts appear at a few set points, while also being encountered at random, making for some truly terrifying and awe-inspiring moments.
There are plenty of dragon types too, such as frost- and fire-breathing variants, black dragons and huge beasts with spikes along their back. Fighting these beasts can be a hugely intimidating experience at first. But soon you'll learn that there's no shame in running to the nearest village and hoping that there are guards to help. But killing dragons isn't impossible on your own, as long as you make use of your healing items and avoid its attacks.
Killing a dragon also lets the player absorb its soul, seeing that you're Dragonborn and all that. These souls can be used to level up and unlock Dragon Shouts. These shouts, another new addition to the series, give the player dragon-like powers, such as fire-breathing, force-push and super-speed. However, these shouts will need to be found first, by exploring dungeons and other locations.